This year you can make a commitment to teach your kids the importance of exercise and a balanced diet. Here are 10 tips to help you help them.
1. Get their heart rate up
Sending your kids into the yard to play won't do much good if they choose an activity that involves sitting. Teach them that active exercise such as biking, swimming, and dancing, is not only good for their health, but fun.
2. Find an activity your kid loves
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the average child ages 5-12 exercise 20-30 minutes three times per week. This means you should find an activity that your kid loves so much that they look forward to going back tomorrow.
3. Teach safe practices
Whether it comes from you or a coach or teacher, your kid should learn the importance of stretching, warming up and cooling down. This will decrease their chance of injury.
4. Talk about how it makes them feel
Teach your child how to recognize stress and to understand that exercise reduces stress and its effects. Talk about the association between staying active and feeling good.
5. Teach the five food groups
The five food groups as spelled out by the AAP are vegetables, fruits, grain, protein, dairy. Teaching your kid which groups fall into which categories at an early age will help them make healthy choices.
Also teach them how much they should eat every day from each category:
Vegetables: 3-5 servings
Fruits: 2-4 servings
Bread, cereal, or pasta: 6-11 servings
Protein foods: 2-3 servings
Dairy products: 2-3 servings
6. Keep it fresh
You already know that processed food such as chips and other packaged snacks are bad for your health because they are high in salts and other preservatives. But we all need a snack once in a while, so keep fresh fruits and vegetables on hand and let them know that while the rest of the kitchen make be off limits, the produce drawer is always open.
7. Make it pretty
A colorful plate tends to be a healthy plate, and kids are more likely to try more of the food if there are a variety of colors to choose from. Make it even more alluring by turning the colors into a fun work of art.
(this will be a photo of a meal with a smiley face)
8. Mix it up
Packing the same lunch every day may be the easy way, but it will hurt in the long run. Being a picky eater could put your child at risk for obesity, and teaching them to try new things doesn't hurt, either.
9. Eat right together
When your kids see that you're eating healthy, they're less likely to make a face when you sit a plate of vegetables down in front of them.